The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law are calling on California’s Attorney General to investigate congressional candidate Jazmina Saavedra.
Earlier this month, Saavedra posted a Facebook Live video that showed her harassing a transgender woman in a Denny’s restaurant. In the video, she complains about protections for trans people under California’s civil rights law. She frequently misgenders the woman and alludes to the fact she had pepper spray and was prepared to use it. The video has since been removed from Facebook.
Anti-trans hate crime
HRC and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law believe this incident potentially constitutes a hate crime.
‘Across our country, we are seeing a spike in hate crimes targeted at our nation’s most vulnerable communities. We urge State Attorney General Becerra to use every tool in his arsenal to determine whether Ms. Saavedra’s conduct violates state law,’ Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyer’s Committee, said in a statement.
‘As the federal government continues to retreat from its responsibility to prevent and prosecute hate crimes, we urge state law enforcement agencies to step in, fill the void and protect the rights of survivors.’
Similarly, HRC released a statement condemning Saavedra’s actions at the restaurant.
‘Jazmina Saavedra’s actions are dangerous. She invaded a woman’s privacy while harassing and misgendering the victim,’ HRC president Chad Griffin said in a statement.
‘This type of discriminatory behavior is unacceptable, especially from someone seeking to represent the people of California.’
A representative for Attorney General Becerra’s office called the footage ‘concerning’ and said they are reviewing the requests to look into the matter further.
According to a 2015 survey, 59% of trans and non-binary people say they avoid public restrooms. 1 in 4 said they’ve been questioned about their restroom usage. And 1 in 8 say they were verbally, physically, or sexually attacked for using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
Saavedra is running against Democrat Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, Democrat Aja Brown, and Republican Stacey Dash in California’s 44th Congressional district. The primary election will be held on 5 June.